In this paper I sketch a reconstruction of the basic psychoanalytic conception of the mind in terms of two historical resources: the conception of the subject developed in post-Kantian idealism, and Spinoza's laws of the affects in Part Three of the Ethics. The former, I suggest, supplies the conceptual basis for the psychoanalytic notion of the unconscious, while the latter defines the type of psychological causality of psychoanalytic explanations. The imperfect fit between these two elements, I claim, (...) is reflected in familiar conceptual difficulties surrounding psychoanalytictheory and explanation. (shrink)
This study examines the history of the psychoanalytictheory of mysticism, starting with the seminal correspondence between Freud and Romain Rolland concerning the concept of "oceanic feeling." Providing a corrective to current views which frame psychoanalysis as pathologizing mysticism, Parsons reveals the existence of three models entertained by Freud and Rolland: the classical reductive, ego-adaptive, and transformational (which allows for a transcendent dimension to mysticism). Then, reconstructing Rolland's personal mysticism (the "oceanic feeling") through texts and letters unavailable to (...) Freud, Parsons argues that Freud misinterpreted the oceanic feeling. In offering a fresh interpretation of Rolland's mysticism, Parsons constructs a new dialogical approach for psychoanalytictheory of mysticism which integrates culture studies, developmental perspectives, and the deep epistemological and transcendent claims of the mystics. (shrink)
Psychoanalysis often claims that an appraisal of its constituent hypotheses necessitates a personal analysis on the part of the critic with respect to the latter's ability to render a worthwhile and insightful evaluation of psychoanalytictheory. The objection to this position, namely one of ?privileged access?, has been voiced in numerous contexts, but a philosophical defense of the position has rarely been offered. In this paper such a defense is put forth, and it is argued that psychoanalysis is, (...) in certain crucial respects, analogous to physics in its scientific or structural respects, and insofar as this analogy holds, certain claims about one's familiarity with the latter also hold with respect to the former. Thus, a knowledge of physics entails an understanding of the laboratory procedures whereby physicists carry on their investigations. In the case of psychoanalysis certain ?laboratory operations? and ?instruments? are identifiable also. Where in the physics laboratory the physicist deals with cyclotrons, thermometers and the like, the psychoanalyst deals with the character traits of himself and the analysand. The character trait is the instrument whereby the analyst understands the analysand in a specifically psychoanalytic manner. Since the philosopher must know how the physicist works in the physics laboratory in order to understand physics, one must also understand the laboratory methodology of the analyst. Without the experience of psychoanalysis, however, such an understanding is truncated at best and nonexistent at worst. (shrink)
What is the place of PsychoanalyticTheory on our map of knowledge and belief? Various alternatives are considered. Is it a scientific theory? — a myth? — or like a prescientific example of natural philosophy? — a branch of medical knowledge? — a premature empirical synthesis that is an approximation to the truth? Each of these answers runs into objections and difficulties, some of which are examined or noted. On the assumption that it is a provisional story (...) which approximates to the truth, the question is then raised: what can we do to find out how much of an approximation to the truth the theory really is? The relevance and value of psychological studies are discussed; and the suggestion is made that the status of PsychoanalyticTheory will remain an ambiguous one for some time to come. (shrink)
Freud's early attempts to account for repression and for the occurrence of neurotic symptoms in terms of detachable and displaceable quantities of affect?charge (cathexis) has continued to be a basic aspect of psychoanalytictheory. This is unfortunate since the account is inadequate and its central concept, that of a quantity of energy, is unsuited to the task at hand. We see that, despite the appropriateness of describing neurotic behavior in dynamic/economic terms, the use of energy concepts on the (...) theoretical level is an explanatory dead?end. (shrink)
Interstices of the Sublime represents a powerful theological engagement with psychoanalytictheory in Freud, Lacan, Kristeva and Zi zek, as well as major expressions of contemporary Continental philosophy, including Deleuze, Derrida, Marion, and Badiou. Through creative and constructive psycho-theological readings of topics such as sublimation, schizophrenia, God, and creation ex nihilo, this book contributes to a new form of radical theological thinking that is deeply involved in the world. Here the idea of the Kantian sublime is read into (...) Freud and Lacan, and compared with sublimation. The sublime refers to a conflict of the Kantian faculties of reason and imagination, and involves the attempt to represent what is intrinsically unrepresentable. Sublimation, by contrast, involves the expression and partial satisfaction of primal desires in culturally acceptable terms. The sublime is negatively expressed in sublimation, because it is both the "source" of sublimation as well as that which resists being sublimated. That is, the Freudian sublime is related to the process of sublimation, but it also distorts or disrupts sublimation, and invokes what Lacan calls the Real. The effects of the sublime are not just psychoanalytic but, importantly, theological, because the sublime is the main form that "God" takes in the modern world. A radical postmodern theology attends to the workings of the sublime in our thinking and living, and provides resources to understand the complexity of reality. This book is one of the first sustained theological readings of Lacan in English. (shrink)
In this compelling book, Anthony Elliott traces the rise of psychoanalysis from the Frankfurt School to postmodernism, exploring in detail the social and political factors that have led intellectuals to draw from the insights of Freud. Examining how pathbreaking theorists such as Adorno, Marcuse, Lacan and Lyotard have deployed psychoanalysis to politicize issues like desire, sexuality, repression and identity, Elliott develops a powerful assessment of the gains and losses arising from this appropriation of psychoanalysis in social theory and cultural (...) studies. Moving from the impact of the Culture Wars and recent Freud-bashing to contemporary debates in social theory, feminism and postmodernism, Elliott argues for a new alliance between social-theoretical and psychoanalytic perspectives. (shrink)
What can psychoanalysis offer contemporary arguments in the fields of Feminism, Queer Theory and Post-Colonialism? Jan Campbell introduces and analyses the way that psychoanalysis has developed and made problematic models of subjectivity linked to issues of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and history. Via discussions of such influential and diverse figures as Lacan, Irigaray, Kristeva, Dollimore, Bhabha, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker, Campbell uses psychoanalysis as a mediatory tool in a range of debates across the human sciences, while also arguing for (...) a transformation of psychoanalytictheory itself. (shrink)
This essay focuses on an issue arising from within an anti-essentialist perspective on sexual identity: how is it possible to explain the political impetus inhering in a category such as 'woman' without having recourse to a set of positive properties that would somehow fix her identity in advance? I examine how a particular theoretical outlook, social postmodernism, attempts to address this issue, and argue that, ultimately, social postmodernism generates its own impasse which I call social foundationalism - an impasse which (...) is structurally similar to biological foundationalism. I invoke discourse-theoretic concepts to introduce the psychoanalytic categories of master signifier and symbolic identification. This is done in order to suggest how Lacanian psychoanalysis permits us to theorize sexual difference in a way that avoids both biological foundationalism and social foundationalism. Key Words: discoursetheory identification identity Lacan poststructuralism psychoanalysis sexual difference social postmodernism. (shrink)
The theory of repression is the cornerstone of the freudian edifice. hence this paper scrutinizes its foundations by examining freud's clinical arguments for the repression-aetiology of the psychoneuroses, and for the major causal role of repressed ideation in commiting "freudian slips", and in dreaming. the upshot of this scrutiny is that the fundamental reasoning by which freud sought to justify his theory was grievously flawed.
The relationship existing between science and psychoanalysis has long been tense, critical, even hostile. Andre Haynal addresses this relationship by examining three questions: how is psychoanalytic "knowledge" established? what methodology and epistemology underlie psychoanalytictheory? and what are the historical circumstances that have shaped psychoanalysis? Haynal is familiar with the full spectrum of analytic thought and begins with a systematic discussion of analytic theory. The second part of the book covers a series of historical topics and (...) includes discussions of Freud and his relations with his followers. A chapter on Freud and his "favorite disciple," Sandor Ferenczi, is an engrossing account of the complex intellectual and personal connection the two men shared. (shrink)
Unconscious knowing : psychoanalytic evidence in support of a radical epistemic view -- The limits of rationality : vagueness, a case study -- Agency "me"-ness in action -- The placebo effect : psychoanalytictheory can help explain the phenomenon -- Explanations and conclusions.
The primary aim of this paper is to analyse the biological foundations of Lacan's notion of desire as expounded in his first two Seminars (1953–1955). These works provide us with his most detailed discussion of the species-specific preconditions that allow homo sapiens to speak and establish symbolic pacts among individuals. Despite its irreducibility to the domain of animal instincts, human desire can only be adequately understood against the background of an evolutionary enquiry on the emergence of language, one that problematises (...) both the implicit teleological assumptions of a certain Darwinianism and the logical consistency of an investigation of origins. Drawing on organic and anatomical evidence, Lacan postulates a primordial biological discord between man and his environment, centred on premature birth and a subsequent disorder of the imagination, from which language and the symbolic arise immanently. Desire is seen in this context as coextensive with what Lacan repeatedly refers to as "the world of the symbol". The key argument I intend to put forward is that the symbolic order is a world in the sense that, in always presenting itself to man as a totality, it compensates for the failure of a strictly "natural" relationship between man as animal and his environment. In performing this function, the symbolic also amounts to nothing else than "human nature" tout-court. In other words, the symbolic is an exceptional and to a certain extent autonomous pseudo-environmentthat must nevertheless be interpreted by means of biological concepts. (shrink)
Just what sort of a theory is psychoanalytictheory? -- Did Kant precede Freud on a-rational thought? -- Why primary process is hard to know -- Representational a-rational thinking : a proper function account for phantasy and wish -- Drive theory and primary process -- Phantasies, neurotic-beliefs, and beliefs-proper -- Desire and the readiness-to-act -- Compare and contrast : Gardner, Lear, Cavell, and Brakel.
This paper explores the psychoanalytic conception of the unconscious and critiques it from a phenomenlogical perspective, especially Sartre and Heidegger, with a view to conceptualizing the unconscious from an ontological rather than psychological mindset.